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Commisars *sigh*

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*Sigh*

Commisars make very little sense as written.

We know (from Cain's Last Stand) they are trained in intelligence analysis and various counter insurgent principles.

We know they must have some tactical training, since every commisar in the novels seems to be a highly skilled tactician - indeed they'd have to be somewhat familiar with tactics to even fulfil their jobs. Yet from their advancement possibilities, they are about as clever as a bag of rocks, and so only about 10% smarter than the average Ork.

Atleast they got fellowship instead of stregth, finally.

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Comissars are political officers, not, stricktly speaking, army men, and thus they have no command. They don't plan the battles, that's the officers job. Their job is to keep morale up and root out heresy and weakness by any means necessary and they can only take command of a squad if its rightful commander dies, which is why they start with Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis). They often give their counsel to the officer they're attached to but, theoretically, the officer has compulsion to heed it, though if he does and things go wrong the Comissar might accuse him of incompetence.

The Comissars in the novels are a bad example. Gaunt is a Colonel Comissar, both a political and a military officer and nominally in charge of the entire Tanith regiment, and Cain is a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM so everyone, much to his chagrin, wants to hear his take on thinks and give it more weight than they should.

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Realize, anything is possible with enough XP. I hardly think Cain is a 300 xp character. Probably more like a 25k-30k xp character. There comes a point when you've bought everything you need, and you're just stacking up "other" skills and talents.

As far as being good at what they need to do initially, Commissars have easy Command Skills, and pretty effective melee ability, moderate defensive ability.

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Hmm…. I'd state that an argument could be made for Tactics being a skill they start with.  Remember that part of the job is overseeing the officers and 'dealing' with incompetence.  To know if an officer is incompetent, they would logically need to know how tactics work.

 

Cain, in the first story chronologically, as a brand new commisar on this first assignment, with at least a working understanding of tactics.  Conversly, Commisar Forres in The Last Ditch, does not start with any skill, but quickly picks it up, suggesting that this might be an optional low level skill.

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Scholastic Lore(Tacita Imperialis) is the tactics skill they have.

At which point, their actual ability to improve this is really based more around how willing they are to put xp into a skill they have no aptitudes for (or its governing characteristic).

The thing to realize though is that a good GM will apply a proper bonus to the roll, given the amount of information the character has to go off of, and how obvious the actual situation may be.

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 In addition to the reasons offered, if you make the Commissar a consummate leader then you make the Sergeant class redundant. But as said you can certainly invest xp into a Commissar into a leader, or alternatively you could make them more traditional political Minders. I mean in the adventure given with a book there's a Commissar acting as the guard equivilent of a hall monitor more than a leader.

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KommissarK said:

 

The thing to realize though is that a good GM will apply a proper bonus to the roll, given the amount of information the character has to go off of, and how obvious the actual situation may be.

 

 

 

Ok, I see a trend here when it comes to people's complaints about the system as stands and it seems to be 'make the GM do it because we, the publisher, can't be bothered.' 

 

After all, you know Good GMs can ride herd on five rampaging egomaniacs, write the entire adventure in advance, ad lib it when the party wrecks it, and come up with rules for things that would not normally appear in a book and/or are so broken RAW that they need revising.  It's clear they also need to be able to write rules for things that should be in the book, but arn't because we didn't feel they were important to our preconcived manner in which we intend our game to be played.

 

You know, if it's true, why does a good GM need to buy your book in the first place?  And why did a shitton of people pay $20 a head to have thier feedback brushed off?

Sorry, (and this isn't directed even specifically at this thread, but the whole process in general) but I think that I speak for at least a few of us when I point out that the point of a beta is to find the things that are broken, pointless, or otherwise nonsense, and bring them to the attention of the publisher so they can be fixed in the final release version.  However, I've seen more threads where problems are not addressed or flat out ignored then I've seen where they were corrected.  It's frustraiting for the people who paid to test it.  This is by far the most bizzarly non-responsive playtest program I've ever taken part in.  Hell, BFG FAQ 2010 had more feedback between the writers and testers then this.

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My comment simply had to do with the realization that almost all rolls in the 40k RPG line are modified by some situational modifier. Almost no roll is a straight +0 test. In almost any situation, a +5/+10 modifier can be found.

The point I was trying to make is simply that:

A. There is a "Tactics" skill in game (no need to spend more space upconverting a skill used in only one, maybe two of the previous 40K RPG lines)

B. While an Int based skill may seem out of place for a Commissar (given that much of their aptitudes have nothing to do with improving Int or improving a Scholastic Lore Skill), in any given situation a character is trying to use SL(Tacita Imperialis) there is probably some bonus. "I have a detailed map of the area," "I've fought off attacks from this same opposing commander before," "We've interrogated a prisoner and have intel that could prove useful," "We have orbital recon picts of enemy movement." Any such example of this easily provides a bonus to said test, and in "good" circumstances, it could easily succeed. Also, the threshold could easily be modified based on the test difficulty.

Point is, it never is a straight vacuum. Now as to what it does; that's what the massive battle section is for. We do have rules on this.

 

Also, I'm not sure where you're getting this "no meaningful feedback" thing. There have been plenty of solid changes based on direct feedback provided here. I can't be the only one to take credit for it, but I did make a pretty hefty thread about Blood Loss, and now we have sutures. Or a thread about how earthshaker cannons used to never miss. People were vocal about making Sound Constitution a Toughness/General instead of Toughness/Defense aptitude.

XP costs used to be crazy high if you didn't have the aptitude.

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JuankiMan said:

 

Comissars are political officers, not, stricktly speaking, army men, and thus they have no command. They don't plan the battles, that's the officers job. Their job is to keep morale up and root out heresy and weakness by any means necessary and they can only take command of a squad if its rightful commander dies, which is why they start with Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis). They often give their counsel to the officer they're attached to but, theoretically, the officer has compulsion to heed it, though if he does and things go wrong the Comissar might accuse him of incompetence.

The Comissars in the novels are a bad example. Gaunt is a Colonel Comissar, both a political and a military officer and nominally in charge of the entire Tanith regiment, and Cain is a HERO OF THE IMPERIUM so everyone, much to his chagrin, wants to hear his take on thinks and give it more weight than they should.

 

 

This is very true. Also, if you look at the Commissars in the Gaunt novels that aren't Gaunt, you get a much more "normal" look at the Commissariat, and how they are truly political officers. Look at Wilder's commissar in "His Last Command," who clearly serves as primarily a motivational tool and a leader-by-example rather than any kind of tactical figure. Look at any of the Commissars portrayed in "The Armour of Contempt," such as the whip-wielder who exists solely to punish and execute his men. Gaunt and Cain both are weird insofar as the regiments they're attached to are very well behaved and trained, and since that means less punishment is required, Gaunt and Cain can focus on being inspirational and helping tactics-wise. Even with that said, it's somewhat clear that a lot of Gaunt and Cain's tactical prowess comes from experience first, schooling second.

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HTMC said:

This is very true. Also, if you look at the Commissars in the Gaunt novels that aren't Gaunt, you get a much more "normal" look at the Commissariat, and how they are truly political officers. Look at Wilder's commissar in "His Last Command," who clearly serves as primarily a motivational tool and a leader-by-example rather than any kind of tactical figure. Look at any of the Commissars portrayed in "The Armour of Contempt," such as the whip-wielder who exists solely to punish and execute his men. Gaunt and Cain both are weird insofar as the regiments they're attached to are very well behaved and trained, and since that means less punishment is required, Gaunt and Cain can focus on being inspirational and helping tactics-wise. Even with that said, it's somewhat clear that a lot of Gaunt and Cain's tactical prowess comes from experience first, schooling second.

Hell, look at Hark from the Gaunt books in general and his grasp of English/Gothic when writing his journal entries for Only in Death. Or that idiot who commissared the Tallarn Raiders regiment, Beije.

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HTMC said:

This is very true. Also, if you look at the Commissars in the Gaunt novels that aren't Gaunt, you get a much more "normal" look at the Commissariat, and how they are truly political officers. Look at Wilder's commissar in "His Last Command," who clearly serves as primarily a motivational tool and a leader-by-example rather than any kind of tactical figure. Look at any of the Commissars portrayed in "The Armour of Contempt," such as the whip-wielder who exists solely to punish and execute his men. Gaunt and Cain both are weird insofar as the regiments they're attached to are very well behaved and trained, and since that means less punishment is required, Gaunt and Cain can focus on being inspirational and helping tactics-wise. Even with that said, it's somewhat clear that a lot of Gaunt and Cain's tactical prowess comes from experience first, schooling second.

 

I'd suggest that it might be the difference between scholas as well.  As an example, Cain makes a point to train all his cadets in basic tactics and officership.  Any of the commisars coming out of that schola are going to have an understanding of it.  Even Forres he makes a point to show the best way to go about things.

I might point out that most of the commisars who are not the Cain/Gaunt type also lead very short lives on the front, heroically killed 'even if the enemy is suspiciously far away' as he observes, and Cain is surpised that Berjie is still alive when he sees him in The Traitor's Hand, being what Cain views as the worst sort of narrow minded political officer.

Further, if a Commisar has to shoot an officer, they frequently become the de facto officer in charge of the men.  This, again, would require competence with tactics.

Another thing: Commisars and Operators, depending on the vehicle, do not come from the same homeworld, or even same regiment as the foot sloggers they are attached to, in fluff.  An operator in a LR is from the armored company, but attached to support IG infantry, with a whole armored company fighting together very rarely, and usually only for a very specific mission.

 

Personally, I'd at the very least rename Sargent as 'Officer' because NCOs are not trained as such from boot, officers are.

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BaronIveagh said:

HTMC said:

 

Personally, I'd at the very least rename Sargent as 'Officer' because NCOs are not trained as such from boot, officers are.

I actually sent this exact suggetion to the designers with the same reasoning. Officers are trained from the academy (Or birth in the case of nobility) to lead men into battle. Sergeants would be senior members of any of the standard specialties who have gained experience enough to "get things dome". They rarely have much tactical finesse but often have a great deal of leadership and intimidate abilities. Again, This would be a matter of spending the appropriate experience rather than any specific aptitude.

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I've been mulling this over an talked to a few people and it would be better with the roles of Sargent (officer) and Commisar (combat monster) were switched.  This would make a certain amount of sense, and fit better with the expectations of players.  It's more likely that the average role player who picks this up will have read one of the novels than that they will have even looked at a single IG codex.

 

After all, it's Cain/Gaunt/Yarrick that they want to play, not some random asshat that stands around shooting other members of the party in the head for cowardice.

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I disagree. I've never played TT OR read the novels. The bulk of my 40k knowledge comes from hanging out in game stores, old WD articles, the Wikis and the various Dawn of War games.

I expect most Commisars to be of the asshat variety. I personally will be playing a sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying Commisar based loosely on Lt. Grueber from 'Allo 'Allo. I'm not planning on shooting any party members unless truly provoked. But he will be a fanatical psychotic by modern standards.

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Yes, andor, but that's hardly what most people will be doing.  (as most people outside Europe have never heard of allo allo)

 

I hate to say it, but most Sarges I've known were more about surviving the mission then being inspiring.  That was the officer's job. 

 

At the FLGS they were bitching because the players that preffered combat monsters all had picked sargents (Including many of the 40k players), and were dissapointed to find out that it wasn't. 

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BaronIveagh said:

Yes, andor, but that's hardly what most people will be doing.  (as most people outside Europe have never heard of allo allo)

I hate to say it, but most Sarges I've known were more about surviving the mission then being inspiring.  That was the officer's job. 

 At the FLGS they were bitching because the players that preffered combat monsters all had picked sargents (Including many of the 40k players), and were dissapointed to find out that it wasn't. 

A sergeant is the officer in charge of the squad, so he has to inspire and command when there's no lieutenant around, not just "survive the battle". Surviving may be a definite must, but he's primarly expected to actually give orders and coordinate his team.

And many will not have read a single novel but have played the game, so the Comissarial image they will have will be of the guy with better WS, more Attacks and power weapons who has Ld10 by virtue of the men being terryfied of him, not of Gaunt or Cain, which it must be said are extreme oddities within the Comissariat.

So no, I see absolutely no reason why the Squad's leader shouldn't be the one focused on leading.

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BaronIveagh said:

After all, it's Cain/Gaunt/Yarrick that they want to play, not some random asshat that stands around shooting other members of the party in the head for cowardice.

Oh, and incidentally, all three of those Comissars are melee monsters in their own right. And by that order of proficiency.

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 Just saying that we might not want to be too strict on symantics simply because the Guard have been sort of loose on hierarchy naming conventions, mostly because of too many chefs in the kitchen when it came to fluff creation but in universe because not all regiments use the same terms. This is going off any article about hierarchy in the Imperial Guard.

 

That said I'm not saying we shouldn't change the name to Officer, I'm totally indifferent to it because I'm not an armchair general nor enlisted man. I simply wouldn't know better.

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Radwraith said:

 

BaronIveagh said:

 

HTMC said:

 

Personally, I'd at the very least rename Sargent as 'Officer' because NCOs are not trained as such from boot, officers are.

 

 

I actually sent this exact suggetion to the designers with the same reasoning. Officers are trained from the academy (Or birth in the case of nobility) to lead men into battle. Sergeants would be senior members of any of the standard specialties who have gained experience enough to "get things dome". They rarely have much tactical finesse but often have a great deal of leadership and intimidate abilities. Again, This would be a matter of spending the appropriate experience rather than any specific aptitude.

 

 

I actually prefer to leave the Sergeant as is for the following reasons:

-At the start of a campaign the players probably aren't going to be part of a command squad.  Keep in mind they only have a logistics rating of 10 to begin.  This is in line with them being enlisted men.

-In the table top game a squad of troops is lead by Sergeants/Veteran Sergeants.  While I suspect your argument is based on how it is in the US military, this is not  the theme of this RPG.  Any confusion about what a Sergeant character does can be cleared up simply by reading the specialties description.

-The kind of officer you are describing would have more in common with loner characters like the Commissars and Stormtroopers and would require a reworking of the character concept.

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BirdofHermes said:

 

I actually prefer to leave the Sergeant as is for the following reasons:

-At the start of a campaign the players probably aren't going to be part of a command squad.  Keep in mind they only have a logistics rating of 10 to begin.  This is in line with them being enlisted men.

-In the table top game a squad of troops is lead by Sergeants/Veteran Sergeants.  While I suspect your argument is based on how it is in the US military, this is not  the theme of this RPG.  Any confusion about what a Sergeant character does can be cleared up simply by reading the specialties description.

-The kind of officer you are describing would have more in common with loner characters like the Commissars and Stormtroopers and would require a reworking of the character concept.

 

 

 

Point 1: Unless they're tech priests, priests, Sentinels, Commisars, snipers, armored just about anything, or heavy support just about anything.  Since all those report to the command squad, not the gopos they're attached to.

 

Point 2: So you're saying that the theme of this game is that Sergeants spring up out of the ground and promotions never ever happen in the rank and file?

Does not just fly in the face of logic, it flies in the face of fluff (After all, the 112th Rough Riders were being lead by a former sergeant turned colonel following the fighting against the tyranids on Coriana.

Point 3: not seeing the reason it would require that level of rework.   Unless there's some reason from GW that it would, I know they've been a pain in the ass for approving things.

 

JuankiMan said:

 

BaronIveagh said:

After all, it's Cain/Gaunt/Yarrick that they want to play, not some random asshat that stands around shooting other members of the party in the head for cowardice.

Oh, and incidentally, all three of those Comissars are melee monsters in their own right. And by that order of proficiency.

 

 

Actually it would be Gaunt/Cain/Yarrick.

 

As far as all three being exceptions, the only one who actually is would be Gaunt, due to his position.  There's this weird thing I've noticed in 40k that anything that does not agree with the speakers point of view is 'an exception' even if,in reality, they're basing their entire position off one line in one codex three editions ago and the bulk of the examples make that the actual 'exception'.  (We ran into this problem with Space Marines and lances when Betaing BFG FAQ 2010.  There was an absolutely rabid response that SM could not ever have lances ever because there was a line in BFG armada that stated that the IN and IQ were concerned over the Nova class frigates superior performance as a capital ship killer, and it was armed with a lance.  Never mind it was faster and more agile than IN frigs as well as packing that F/L/R lance, it was obviously just the lance they were talking about.  Despite the fact that a dozen sources could be brought from BL and Codecies that said SM had lances on strike cruisers)

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BaronIveagh said:

 

BirdofHermes said:

 

I actually prefer to leave the Sergeant as is for the following reasons:

-At the start of a campaign the players probably aren't going to be part of a command squad.  Keep in mind they only have a logistics rating of 10 to begin.  This is in line with them being enlisted men.

-In the table top game a squad of troops is lead by Sergeants/Veteran Sergeants.  While I suspect your argument is based on how it is in the US military, this is not  the theme of this RPG.  Any confusion about what a Sergeant character does can be cleared up simply by reading the specialties description.

-The kind of officer you are describing would have more in common with loner characters like the Commissars and Stormtroopers and would require a reworking of the character concept.

 

Point 1: Unless they're tech priests, priests, Sentinels, Commisars, snipers, armored just about anything, or heavy support just about anything.  Since all those report to the command squad, not the gopos they're attached to.

 

Point 2: So you're saying that the theme of this game is that Sergeants spring up out of the ground and promotions never ever happen in the rank and file?

Does not just fly in the face of logic, it flies in the face of fluff (After all, the 112th Rough Riders were being lead by a former sergeant turned colonel following the fighting against the tyranids on Coriana.

Point 3: not seeing the reason it would require that level of rework. Unless there's some reason from GW that it would, I know they've been a pain in the ass for approving things.

 

 

Conter-point 1: Priests and Commisars are attached to the Squad, though technically respond before Echlesiarchy and the Comissariat respectively. Snipers and heavy weapons specialists report to the Squad leader because they're part of the squad. If a Sentinel is attached to the squad or they have a Chimera transport, their operator too respond to the squad leader, because they're nominally part of the squad and he's in charge and if the squad is part of an armoured company, the "Sarge" is the tank's commander, so everyone inside the vehicle responds to him.

Counter-point 2: Promotions do happen to the rank and file, but the soldiers who get promoted are those that show aptitude in leadership and command. If you have no charisma whatsoever you'll never rise above corporal, no matter how good a killer you are. Regardless, Sergeants can "spring from the ground", springing from the ground meaning that during training they are singled out and promoted, either through exceptional aptitude, upbringing or nepotism. After all, a freshly minted regiment has a fully functional command structure before its baptism of fire.

 

BaronIveagh said:

 

JuankiMan said:

 

BaronIveagh said:

After all, it's Cain/Gaunt/Yarrick that they want to play, not some random asshat that stands around shooting other members of the party in the head for cowardice.

Oh, and incidentally, all three of those Comissars are melee monsters in their own right. And by that order of proficiency.

 

Actually it would be Gaunt/Cain/Yarrick.

 

As far as all three being exceptions, the only one who actually is would be Gaunt, due to his position.  There's this weird thing I've noticed in 40k that anything that does not agree with the speakers point of view is 'an exception' even if,in reality, they're basing their entire position off one line in one codex three editions ago and the bulk of the examples make that the actual 'exception'.  (We ran into this problem with Space Marines and lances when Betaing BFG FAQ 2010.  There was an absolutely rabid response that SM could not ever have lances ever because there was a line in BFG armada that stated that the IN and IQ were concerned over the Nova class frigates superior performance as a capital ship killer, and it was armed with a lance.  Never mind it was faster and more agile than IN frigs as well as packing that F/L/R lance, it was obviously just the lance they were talking about.  Despite the fact that a dozen sources could be brought from BL and Codecies that said SM had lances on strike cruisers)

 

 

If you think Comissars like Gaunt or Cain are the rule you need to reread the Imperial Guard fluff. All three execute people on extremely rare occasions (hell, both Gaunt and Yarrick lack the "Summary Execution" rule!) and lead through example and inspiration, while most lead through example and abyect fear. And Cain… well, let's just say that either he is a magnificient actor or whoever promoted him to Comissar was drunk.

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So to reexamine the points being made here, what exactly is the issue again?

That the commissar lacks key aptitudes/skills?

They get Command or Intimidate (the inspire/terrify ability or the outright strongarm/scare skill)

They get CL(Imperial Guard) (I know the structure of the guard!) and Scholastic Lore(Tacita Imperialis) (Tactics!)

Their talents are appropriate.

Aptitudes:

Agility - Useful for those in close combat/need mobility to engage

Finesse - Represents the use of martial skill/prowess

Leadership - Ties to the command skill (the most important skill a commissar will be using for their job in this game)

Perception - One must see the coward to shoot the coward

Fellowship - Commissars are morale officers, they are at least to a certain extent, "socialable," be it by giving speeches, inspiring the troops, or terrifying the troops.

Weapon Skill - They are good in melee

Willpower - They need to resist fear.

About the only thing here even remotely out of place -might- be perception. But even that has its uses (scrutiny). And what would it be good to replace with? Intelligence?

Remember, this is just what is XP efficient. By no means does any of this limit what any given character can do with enough XP.

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About the only thing here even remotely out of place -might- be perception.

I don't think even that is out of place. It's somewhat hard to punish infractions when you don't notice them going on right under your nose.

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KommissarK thank you for reminding us that this thread was concerning Commissars and not Sergeants.  I have created a new thread for anyone else who would like to continue the Sergeant conversation.

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JuankiMan said:

If you think Comissars like Gaunt or Cain are the rule you need to reread the Imperial Guard fluff. All three execute people on extremely rare occasions (hell, both Gaunt and Yarrick lack the "Summary Execution" rule!) and lead through example and inspiration, while most lead through example and abyect fear. And Cain… well, let's just say that either he is a magnificient actor or whoever promoted him to Comissar was drunk.
Let's keep in mind that, given how the 40k franchise is handled, one product does not necessarily have to "fit in" with another. I'm no expert on the novels in question, but I have heard enough of the Cain ones to realise that they feature a lot of contradictions with existing GW fluff.

Perhaps the best solution would be to houserule different versions of Commissars, depending on whether the group one is playing in prefers the GW-variant or a specific novel author's interpretation?

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